New to bread making
In all my years in the kitchen, I've always been doing muffins and pancakes, and I've only recently started doing my own bread. I'm impressed with how few ingredients are essential to bread. In theory just, wheat, water, yeast, and salt?
I followed the recipe printed on the back of the flour bag. It said 3c flour, 9oz water, 1 pack yeast, 2t sugar, 1T olive oil, 1t salt. The result was something I'd be all right eating myself but maybe not something I could impress family with just yet.
Using unbleached bread flour, I got bread that had a good bread taste. But the crust was too flakey and the inside dried out too quicky (within a day). I tried all-purpose flour. It produced bread with the kind of texture I like, a chewy crust. However, the bread tastes very bland.
As a longtime resident of the San Francisco Bay Area, I've long been fond of the local sourdough bread. The bread made with all-purpose flour resembles the texture and consistency of sourdough bread. But I don't think it's just the lack of sourness that makes what I made bland.
What could I do to improve the taste of the bread? I thought I might be missing a magical ingredient, so I'm posting here in the ingredients section. Is it the flour that makes a difference?
Or could it be method? Should the dough be put in the refrigerator overnight so the yeast can work at producing more flavor? I've been kneading by hand, no need to increase counter junk when I already have a rice cooker and slow cooker. The dough has been left to rise at room temperature on the counter, since it seems to double in size in the first 15 minutes without any extra warming anyway.